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FOUR STEPS to a website that GENERATES new business

Sales FunnelJust over half of all small businesses in Australia have a website but how many of them can truly say that their sites are actually generating business? Even in this day and age, some business owners still believe that a website is nothing more than an on-line business card. They don’t understand that potential for business growth that lies beneath every website page.

Luckily, for small business site owners, there are four simple steps that you can take to convert that website of yours from an on-line brochure into an inbound marketing machine!

Step One – Make sure that your site is easy to find (in Google)

Jump on Google right now and find out where your site resides in the search results in relation to Google. If your site not on the first page of results then you are missing out on 94% of people looking for you!

If this is you, do three things:

–          Grab a pencil and paper, sit down with a cup of coffee and write down all the important words that relate your business. Write down any words that you believe potential customers will use in the search engines to try and find you. These are known as your keywords.

–          Write a brief description (one or two sentences) about the services or products your business supplies to its customers.

–          Get these keywords and the description on your website pages. You may need to contact your site developer or, if your site has been built with WordPress, install the YOAST SEO plugin and it will step you through the process of add these all important, Google-friendly words to your site.

The next time that Google “sweeps” past your site on its never-ending trawl of the internet, it will notice these keywords and use them to index your site, hopefully, if you have done your work properly, making it easier for people to find.

Step Two – Use the home page to talk about your customers’ needs/wants

Of course, most people like to know a little bit about the business (and the people behind it) that they are dealing with. However, it is a mistake to put this information up front on the very first page, the home page of your site. People aren’t visiting the site to find out about your history, they initially don’t care. They want to know if you can solve their problems or supply the items that they are seeking.

Use the home page to talk about your customers and what you can do for them. If you can, try and supply this information in a very (very) short personal story aimed at your ideal customer. People love stories and they especially love stories that are about them.

Step Three – Make your visitors interact with your site

Nothing is more boring that a stagnant site that makes visitors simply sift through the information. Unless you are a gripping author, this is unlikely to make your site any more memorable than the many others that are out there.

Instead, give the visitors something do. With a whole range of multimedia possibilities now open to us, why not use technology to interact. Calculators, videos, podcast downloads, fact sheets (PDFs), personalised games, pop-up chat rooms, discussion forums and the good old fashioned sign-up.

By making your potential customers interact with your website, you are inadvertently connecting them directly with you as the business owner and this will stick in their minds “Which small business helped me with downloadable fact sheets on their site?” or “XYZ had the interest-free calculator on their site – I’ll get in touch with them.” It may not be an instant sale but sometimes a seed needs to be planted.

Step Four – Make your Call to Action OBVIOUS

It’s time that small business owners paid their websites the respect and attention that they deserve. After all, your site is your number one sales avenue – it should be online and working for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Part of this respect and attention should be directed at the sales funnel of the site – how do people interact with the site so that they can either: find out more or make a purchase.

Isolate how your customer wants to achieve this and make it as simple as possible. It might a great big button that declares “LET’S DO IT!” or a newsletter subscription that reads “Indulge in our new services today.” You may need to even lead the customer through a series of steps to enact the solution they came looking for. As you can see from these examples, a Call to Action (CTA) needs to personalised to the business to which it is being applied but at the same time, be enticing to the site visitor.

If you merely want people to get in touch, make sure that your phone number is located at the top of every page, preferably on the right hand side. Make your Contact Us page easy to access and easy to use. Don’t put any roadblocks in the way that may impact the success of the CTA.

Once you have these steps in place, you’ll need some way to measure your site’s success. Google Analytics is a free and accurate way to track the changes in the way people find, visit and use your website. It may take a few weeks to gain the traction that you expect your site to make and you will have to make some tweaks and changes along the way (if you haven’t got a CMS website, get one!) but with effective strategies now in place, watch as your small business website starts to really work for you.

 

Why your small town business needs a big business website

Why your small town business needs a big business websitePutting my obvious bias aside (and many other business owners will back me up here), I firmly believe that if you are operating a business in the 21st century, irrespective of where you are or what your business does, you must have a website. Smart phones, tablets and computers are everywhere in our modern society and they are all “jacked” into the internet 24/7.

For the business owner, this means, regardless of who your customers are, they will be searching for you on Google. Very few people are reaching for the Yellow Pages these days – it takes far too long (no wonder the Yellow Pages have begun to move online) and can be confusing with the numerous listings. But if your customers can’t find you on Google, I’ll bet that they will certainly find your competitors in the search results and you will lose their business.

This also applies to businesses that traditionally operate out of a small town community, like Innisfail, where I live and work. It’s important to remember that there are no borders to business anymore and, because of technology, the world is much smaller than it used to be.

Despite these facts, I still find myself, on a regular basis, trying to convince businesses in my home town that a website is a necessity – even for them!

Here’s three of my counter arguments:-

A website expands your business beyond the borders of your community.

With a website there are no boundaries for your business. Once online, your site can sell products and services around the globe – it can even sell them while you are asleep! And, with the multitude of shipping options available nowadays, you can “move” your products very quickly to any destination on the earth.

So, why would you settle for doing business in a tiny demographic when you could go global?

As Donald Trump often says, “Think Big!”

A website can level the playing field for the “little guys”

Regardless of the size of your small business or its location, your website can compete on the same level as any other business in your particular industry. You may not have the flashy storefronts of your competitors or the sheer magnitude of their operations but a website doesn’t have to worry about these things.

Your site can compete on the same level if it offers:

–          An easy to use interface.

–          A clear Call to Action (CTA).

–          Helpful service (through contact forms, online videos, pop-up chats, tricks or tips).

–          High quality products or services.

In short, if your website can deliver the same service as expected from the “big guys”, it has a chance at grabbing customers that would have once dismissed you as “too small”.

You can connect with customers like never before.

Businesses, both large and small, can now build their brands and followers through the use of an effective Social Media strategy. With very little effort, you can start a conversation with your customers and, as a result, grow a better understanding of their needs and wants.  

Conversely, customers can carry on these discussions completely separate from your business involved and, as long as those discussions are positive, this will help to build the public image of that your brand.

Examples of this include:

–          Fashion products being spruiked by customers on their Instagram accounts.

–          Special announcements being launched instantly on Twitter.

–          A loyal Facebook following (a great source of testimonials).

–          Hashtags leading directly back to the source – your website.

A properly built and managed website allows a small town business to build and expand beyond what was traditionally possible. By making your business easy to find, helpful and value for money – you will not only encourage locals to stick with you but may just hook into some lucrative “outside” business and from there – the only way is up!

Three Steps to make an impact using Social Media

Make an impact using Social Media for your Small BusinessIt would seem that the entire world has now hooked up on social media of some type. What was once only the realm of teenagers and “yuppies” has become part of our everyday lives. We have so many choices as to how we connect to others in our social networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, just to name a few – there are literally hundreds of options to choose from.

With so many choices, as a small business owner, you are faced with a conundrum. Which social media platforms are going to give you the best “bang for your buck” and expose your business to its ideal customers?

Obviously, you cannot hope to cover every single one. Even with a full-time social media employee on staff, the task would be impossible. A selection of platforms needs to be made from the multitude to ensure that the best ones are chosen for your business.

However, even once the selection has been made, it isn’t all going to be plain sailing. The small business owner still has some questions to answer – who is going to take charge of the social media aspect of the business and what are they going to post online to create a social community around your business?

To help your business on its way to Social Media nirvana, here’s three tips to get you underway:

#1 – What platforms are best for your business?

The big players in the social media game are the ones we use in our everyday lives– Facebook, Twitter and maybe LinkedIn for business. It could be tempting to simply go with these however it needs to be remembered that not all social platforms will suit all businesses. You need to select, at most, three platforms that you will be able to use effectively to engage your customers in “conversations”.

If you are considering the big three, here’s what they are good for:

–          Facebook is great for generating a community around your business if your target audience consists of everyday people. It allows moderated conversation to occur around your brand and its services / products. More than that, it is fantastic for creating connections and generating emotion if used effectively.

–          Twitter is perfect for broadcasting quick announcements about your business. Use it to put out special offers, announce new products or services and respond to community trends. If you can say it in 140 characters, get your message out on Twitter. Be sure to use hashtags to “hook” into relevant topics that are trending your industry.

–          LinkedIn is the ideal platform for business to business discussions. Create mutually beneficial relationships with other businesses that use your services/products.  Key to success on LinkedIn is getting those all-important connections happening but once you get a few in the bag, they will start to “snowball” into a larger network.

#2 – Get social on a regular basis.

Now that you have selected the platforms that are going to work for you, it’s time to get busy! A good social media strategy starts with a calendar – when are you going to post new items onto your feed or create new tweets? This requires commitment. If you are only posting once a month onto your social media, you will be barely noticed by your followers, posts will lost in the multitude of feeds and it will be hard for your presence to gain traction. On the other, if you post too frequently, you may annoy those following you, they will “disengage” and you will lose those followers very quickly.

Aim for a couple of Facebook updates a week, a few tweets a day and maybe a picture a day on Instagram. You will need to work out the balance yourself or, better yet, find out from your followers what they think is a reasonable amount. While you are at it, why not ask them what they expect you to post online – tips, freebies, videos, pics, etc.  What better way to shape your strategy than to ask the people who will access it?

#3 – Be real and show personality

Often, when businesses update their social media platforms, they tend to fall into the trap of using corporate speak and going for the hard sell.  You mustn’t look at your Facebook or Twitter account as a way to sell services and products – people are not following you for that reason. They may want your products or services but they definitely don’t need to be pushed into sales with every post.

Instead, take your followers on a trip “behind the scenes” and introduce them to your business. If you have an Instagram account, show images of your staff trying out the latest merchandise after-hours. On your Twitter account, send out tweets that link back to your staff pages and introduce the people that make your business special.

At all times, remember that you are on SOCIAL media – so try to be social. It’s a perfect way to show your customers that there is actually real people behind your brand – people who care about the services and products they provide. Be real, show respect and most important of all, be yourself.

Then, watch as your actions on social media boost your small business up to the next level.

 

In 2015, every Small Business NEEDS to get online!

Every Small Business needs a siteCompared to traditional marketing methods, it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to kick into action. And, if you want you can pass it all over to someone else to build and maintain it for you. Yet more than 35% of all Australian small businesses still don’t have a website. With statistics revealing that 92% of people in 2014 were searching online for products and services, there are a lot of small businesses that are missing out on potential customers.

Small business owners who don’t have sites generally believe that a website won’t do anything for them, they think it will cost them too much or claim that they just don’t have the time for one. However those who have moved their businesses online can easily show naysayers that by including websites in their marketing plans, they have improved their bottom line, saved on marketing costs and, importantly, exposed their business to a wider audience.

Take a look at the three examples below. These are not your traditional online types but each can still take advantage of a customised online presence:

Office Supplies

A small stationery supplier in a regional town can still grab a chunk of the online market away from the big boys – without breaking the bank. Now, they may not be able to compete with stores such as Officeworks on price, due to the sheer bulk purchasing of the chain stores, however they can exploit and utilise one huge advantage – simple convenience.

Imagine that you require stationery supplies delivered to your door and – you want them now! There is no way you will receive next day delivery of any of these supplies in a small town – even if you pay for the premium postage. What if you could log into your local store’s website, make and pay for an online order and the goods were delivered within the hour (free of charge) to your business door?

That would certainly level the playing field in the local store’s favour. Cost vs convenience – I know which one I choose when I need something fast.

Bed and Breakfasts

A small B&B in regional Queensland has one small cabin for bookings, overlooking the beautiful Goldsborough Valley. With only one cabin on offer, traditional advertising makes it very hard for potential guests to call up and find available dates. With a website however, all bookings can be moved online.

Site visitors can view a calendar integrated into the site that displays available dates, potentially booked dates (that have not been confirmed) and dates that are booked-out. The site owner can easily keep track of upcoming bookings and contact new bookings for confirmation.

Plus, these bookings can be made 24/7 – no need to answer a phone.

Example: http://cairnsgwaybb.com/

Agricultural Services

Up here in beautiful North Queensland, we have a multitude farms with all varieties of produce year round – tomatoes, bananas, coffee, pawpaw and, of course, sugar cane to name just a few. Whilst most of these farms can benefit from getting online, like Liverpool River Bananas and Madella Coffee have, it’s the support agencies that work alongside these farmers that could really improve their services with an digital presence.

Growers Associations such as Burdekin Productivity Services supply their members with the latest information, weather and crop reports as well as industry news via a well-maintained website. No more group emails, phone calls, costly printed reports or newspaper articles – the association can update their sites daily at no cost (other than employee time) to ensure that their members are completely up-to-date with their industries information. For even more interaction, Association sites could incorporate forums and blogs allowing its members to converse and share their own information.

http://bps.net.au/

Regardless of the type of small business, more consumers than ever before are searching for services and products online using smart phones, tablets and computers. This upward trend in usage is increasing each day and small businesses without a site may be missing out on their own slice of the online pie. Even those who have a site may be missing out if their current setup is not utilising all the various options available to it.

Is your small business taking full advantage of online possibilities?

 

 

 

Make Twitter work for your business

Make Twitter work for your businessA huge chunk of the Social Media focus, especially in business terms, is given to either Facebook or LinkedIn. Poor little Twitter is often seen as the outsider. However, if you are looking to build your credibility and influence in the online world, there can be quite a bit of power in those 140 characters. The trick is to wield that power in such a way that you can build a following that works for you.

Below are a selection of tips that the small business owner can use with (and around) Twitter to create a following that will drive customers inbound to your website and ultimately, your business.

Tip #1 – Become a Tweeter worth following:

  • Whenever you are tweeting, be sure to post a variety of information that is relevant to your target audience. Create a mix of links, quotes, latest news, blog titles and retweets so that your followers can expect something a little different each time.
  • If someone follows you on Twitter, repeat the favour. As soon as they hook with up your Twitter, check out their profile and click their FOLLOW button. You may need to jettison them sometime in the future but, who knows, they might have an audience that you can reach into.
  • Always use hashtags to help your followers and potential audience find what they are looking for. With over 6000 tweets being sent out every second, hashtags allow followers to keep their Twitter viewing relevant.

Tip #2 – Get Visible

  • As detailed in the previous tip, searching is a great way to find other Twitter users in your industry’s area. Use this to seek out KPI’s (Key People of Influence) and industry commentators that you can follow. Two upsides for this trick: you’ll often find great content to retweet or repurpose for your own followers and, you may just score a “celebrity” follower – giving your own tweets more exposure (“Hey, guess who follows me now?”).
  • Don’t pretend to be the only source of information on Twitter – retweet the posts from others that you have found useful. The original poster will notice this action and may follow.  Plus your audience will benefit from someone else’s experience that you share.
  • For maximum exposure of your Twitter efforts, be sure to publish your Twitter tag everywhere (@RustyMango). Put it on your business cards, banners, signage, web sites and any traditional advertising so that you can get the Twitter conversation started.

Tip #3 – Act Strategically

  • Make sure your site has a Twitter FOLLOW button. If your site is built on WordPress, there are many excellent plugins that can help (https://wordpress.org/plugins/twitter-tweets-button/) or, alternatively, manually code the button into your site https://about.twitter.com/resources/buttons ). Your site designer can help with this.
  • Offer value to your Twitter followers with the occasional voucher or coupon – exclusive just to them. Roscoes Piazza in Innisfail does this on some slow nights (“Guess how many boxes are stacked in the store tonight. Closest number wins a free family pizza!”)
  • Twitter only allows a maximum of 2000 people that you can follow at any one time. That is quite a hefty number however, if you find yourself going close, make sure that you unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you in return. Of course, make an exception for those on Twitter who provide you with worthwhile industry-specific tweets that you can pass on.

To keep a handle on all this Twitter action, use browser add-ons like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. These two “programs” will allow you to tweet, monitor your account, view retweets of your content and provide an easy way to regularly work on your Twitter campaign.

Make it a habit to tweet/retweet every day – it will keep you abreast of worthwhile content and information from around the web and help to establish yourself as an industry leader in the eyes of your followers.  

If your brand image needs to be consistent, why doesn’t your website?

Be ConsistentAll business owners would (or should be) be aware of brand consistency – the practice by which the logos, colours and style of a company are shown in the same manner anywhere the business is seen. McDonalds restaurants are the kings of this consistency – wherever a McDonalds in located throughout the world, there is absolutely no doubting which brand is in operation. This is done through a stringent company manifesto that steadfastly lays out the strict guidelines that must be adhered to. Even companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – who allow others to use their logos in various applications – have these guidelines to protect their public image.

The process of consistent branding is so important to building a recognisable business.

A sense of consistency is important in many facets of business – processes, system, employment, discipline and even the layout of offices. So why do many businesses neglect consistency within their websites?

Browsing the web in the past week for inspiration, I came across sites that clearly had been updated with absolutely no thought to maintaining a consistent look throughout the pages. One business in particular was so glaringly bad at this, its website inspired me to write this post.

It wasn’t the design of the site that was bad – it actually was quite attractive. The site was ruined by the fact that it had been handed over to the client and they had no idea about how to keep “the look” of the design flowing throughout the pages. On the front page itself, it was very clear to see where the professional designer had finished and the website owner/administrator had taken over. It made the company look unprofessional.

The sad part is that this problem is so easy to avoid. Here’s five tips to keep your site consistent with your original “vision”:

Tip #1: Fonts

Use the same fonts throughout your site. Resist the urge to try out every new font that you discover on your website’s Content Management System. Novels and magazines don’t generally change fonts half way through and neither should your website. This applies to both main text segments and the titling through the site.

Tip #2: Alignment

Centre Alignment has its place however it isn’t in a large portion of text. By centring text on a web page, you are forcing your viewers to re-adjust their eyes for every new line beginning. Think of other texts that you may read during your day, such as newspapers, and you will realise why left alignment is used on all of them.

Tip #3: Colour and Font Weight

As in tip #1, don’t experiment with colours and font weights throughout your pages. Sure colour can grab attention when required however try not to make your website look like a technicolour rainbow. Font weighting should be consistent too – use BOLD text in the same place each time, for example, on the subtitles within your content.

Tip #4: Image Presentation

If you insist on using borders and shadows around your images, make sure they are used consistently. Don’t apply styles to some and neglect it on others.

TinyMCE AdvancedTip #5: Use a Format tool

Luckily, for those of us who use WordPress as a CMS framework for our pages, we have some great plugins that will make the above tips really easy to implement.

The plugin TinyMCE Advanced has a formatting option. A dropdown menu (called FORMAT) can be quickly coded by your web developer to include all the styles that you need for your site. All you have to do is highlight or select the text/image for the style to be applied to and then select the style from the menu. You don’t need to search for font types, colours, weights or anything.

 

I have to admit that page inconsistency has happened on some sites that I have created – mostly after their handover. A warning: potential customers of Rusty Mango Design beware, I will ring you up and let you know if your styles are out of whack – nicely of course. I will also offer our full support to help you present your information in a consistent style. After all, it’s my job to help you look your best – a cohesive and constant appearance is vitally important to the overall success of your website.

If you would like the plugin TinyMCE Advanced installed and coded for your WordPress site, please get in touch with Rusty Mango Design.

Creating your own email campaign

Rusty Mango Design recently sent out the very first issue of our e-newsletter (issue #2 is currently under production) and the response to it has been very positive. Some customers have asked how mailing lists and e-newsletters all work, so in this post, I will detail how you can build a mailing list of your own and export it before switching to MailChimp and creating your newsletter campaign.

Spam Laws

Before we look at how to create a mailing list and use it to promote your business, let’s take a quick look at the Australian SPAM act.

It is vitally important to know that the SPAM Act of 2003 explicitly defines SPAM as any commercial electronic information (emails, SMS, etc.) that are sent to individuals without their consent. If you fail to comply with the Acts stringent rules, there are very hefty fines and penalties. Your business must only send messages to people that have given you their expressed or inferred consent.

Expressed consent means that you have clearly explained to the owner of an email address why you are collecting it before they give it to you. This can be done quite simply as shown in the example below. People who sign up for Rusty Mango’s free e-book are also made aware they are signing for the RMD newsletter as well.

Create your own email campaign

Inferred consent revolves around having an ongoing business relationship with a person who has previously provided their contact details.

For more information about the SPAM ACT 2003, visit http://bit.ly/1AzSCB5

Collect Email Addresses

Create your own email campaignAs shown above, collecting email addresses can be as simple as creating a sign-up form on your website (for Rusty Mango websites, the CONTACT FORM plugin is built into your CMS). On your sign-up form, be sure to also explain how often the emails will be received. Make sure it is enticing without being overloading. Advice – don’t send out an email newsletter every single day – you will scare off your prospects before they even sign up.

As the email addresses come in, collect them with your email program of choice – The procedure for Outlook 365 is shown below – but most programs are fairly similar. 

Click on the PEOPLE tab (in older versions, this was called CONTACTS).

Right-click on the side panel and create a new folder for your Mailing List contacts.

Add all emails for your mailing list to this folder.

Create a mailing list from your contacts

To create a mailing list to export to MailChimp, you must gather all those email addresses into a CSV file (CSV – comma separated values).

Outlook Instructions:

Click on the FILE menu button at the top of screen.

From the next screen, choose OPEN & EXPORT

Select Import / Export

In the pop-up window, choose EXPORT TO A FILE. Click NEXT.

Choose Comma Separated Values. Click NEXT.

In the next screen you will need to look through and find the Mailing List Contacts folder that you created to collect all your addresses. Click NEXT.

Choose the location where you want to save these files. Click NEXT.

Click NEXT again and FINISH.

Create your own email campaign Create your own email campaign Create your own email campaign

Sign up for Mail Chimp

MailChimpFinally, to create and send out your newsletter to your mailing list, I can highly recommend MailChimp (with no bias or commission).

MailChimp is completely free for list with less than 2000 subscribers, it uses a very simple wizard to guide you through the whole process and it also has dozens of templates that you can use to make your newsletter look professional. Every email that is sent has a small clickable link to let viewers see the email in plain text too.

When planning my email newsletter, I draft it out on Microsoft Word first then copy and paste it across to the MailChimp template.

An email newsletter is a great way to send out special offers, news and information to your customer base. For prospective customers, it can really help to establish the sender as an industry leader who is worthy of their business.

If you would like to become part of the Rusty Mango Design mailing list and receive our free e-book and bi-monthly newsletter, visit the home page of our website and sign-up.

 

Five reasons to evolve your business and get it online

Evolve your Business with Rusty Mango Web DesignIn small towns, such as my hometown of Innisfail, small business owners have relied for years purely on local customers for their income. And this has worked just fine for the most part as these businesses have built up loyal trade and trust with good service.

But times have changed. Businesses right through to the early 90’s never had to compete against anything like the internet and the changes it has brought. Nowadays, a huge amount of business is conducted online and, as a small business owner, you are no longer just competing against other local businesses. In fact, for most professional services and especially those selling products, there is no concept of a local business anymore.

Whether you like it or not, you are a state-wide, national or even an international business. Your customers are very aware that if they don’t receive the service they expect to get along with the product they want AND at a price that they like, they are going online to get it somewhere else!

So if your business is unwilling to get online to be competitive in 2015, then you are going to lose a huge chunk of your potential market.

Here’s five good reasons why getting a website is essential to the evolution of a modern small business.

Evolve your Business with Rusty Mango Web Design#1 – A website is available to your customers 24/7

With online trading, a customer can choose when they are going to visit you. They are no longer dependant on when you open your physical store. A website allows a business owner to keep products and services moving all day, every day. A mobile-responsive site takes this to the next level with customers accessing businesses on-the-go with tablets and smartphones.

#2 – Your website opens you up to the international marketplace.

A website means that you don’t have to just sell your products and services to locals in your immediate area. If you have a great product and it is easily found online (with search engine optimisation), you are able to sell to anyone, anywhere in the world. You are no longer geographically locked in.
If someone two thousand kilometres away wants your products – with a website, they can get them.

#3 – Window Shopping has evolved too

Walking down the main street in your town or city is no longer the only way to go window shopping (though some may disagree). Online, your potential customers are always looking and planning where they are going to make their next purchases. They are comparing prices, checking out services and calculating delivery costs. Even if they may not be making an immediate purchase, when they do, those online businesses who have made an impact on their searches will definitely come to the forefront.

#4. Online, you can build your position as a Key Person of Influence in your industry.

Your website and your online presence have become key factors when customers are searching for a new business to deal with. A strong presence is a great way to demonstrate that you are a modern business with its finger on the pulse of your industry. Customers testimonials are also a great way of showing your prospects that you are capable of delivering the products and services that your offer. Social Media interaction (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) will help to build a community of loyal followers that your business can use to develop, research and sell new products. Each one of these components is essential to build your authority as a KPI (Key Person of Influence).

Evolve your Business with Rusty Mango Web Design#5 – On the internet, size does not matter.

A website is a great leveller. Whether you’re a one-man show or a 20,000-employee corporate giant; if you offer prompt and friendly service backed up by a quality product, you can compete head-to-head with the “big guys”. On the other hand, if you don’t have a website, you’ll be losing business to other companies that do.

Despite all the reasons that are spruiked daily about the benefits of an online business, it is estimated that more than half (52%) of Australian small business owners do not have a website. This is astounding considering that 82% of small business owners get new business through referrals. If you don’t have a website, how do these referrals find out more about you?

If you want to evolve your small business and access a greater share of your industry’s market, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design today and we will examine an online strategy that will work for you.

Website Imagery – More important than ever!

Imagery can make or break your siteWeb design has come a long way since 1991 when a man called Tim Berners-Lee created the first text-only pages of the World Wide Web. In those days, web pages were drab and boring as the technology and slow download speeds didn’t allow for anything else.

There is no such excuse in 2015. A majority of the world has access to high-speed broadband and with that, multimedia websites with video, images and sound are common place. Browsing the web has become a total sensory experience in many ways and text is taking a back seat. The imagery that we see on a website can often determines the success or failure of our interactions with that site. “A picture is worth a 1000 words” has never been a truer statement.

Why are images so powerful for a website?

  • Hot spot analysis shows that images are the very first thing a visitor sees on a website. Text is a distant second!
  • One solitary image can determine the emotion and tone of the website, even before the visitor reads a single word.
  • Visitors like to click on image links more than simple text links. For example, a user will more likely click on a product image to make a purchase rather than the words underneath.
  • Visitors like to share what they find on the web with their friends and it is much more likely that they will LIKE an image to share on Facebook or PIN onto Pinterest.

Pointing with images drives attention to the textUsing images has distinct benefit to a website:

  • Site analysis has shown that images increase the average number of pages visited within a site, reducing bounce time and keep visitors longer.
  • 60% of consumers are more willing to consider local businesses that include images on their websites.
  • ALT tags (the labels that pop-up when you float your mouse over an image) help to improve the general SEO on your site. Google scans these each time it visits your website.
  • Online store products with effective imagery have a much improved chance of product sale than those without.

Message: Don’t Skimp on the Imagery

It’s always evident when a business skimps on images for its website. Even if the text content is compelling and the “call to action” actually works, the whole site can be let down by poor quality imagery. Conveying an emotion is one of the most important parts of a business web design – you want the site visitor to “feel” something towards your brand. You may want to generate excitement through action shots, warmth through family images or compassion for emotional situations around the world.

Creating this emotion is the hardest part. Only well-framed and purposeful imagery has the strength to convey emotion which will affect nearly everything else on the page.

Now to get on my soapbox: Only a professional photographer (or at the very least an experienced amateur) has the experience to capture these images. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that a couple of shots taken on a smart phone will have the same effect. Shots taken by your employees often won’t meet the bill either.

If you have contracted a web designer to build your small business site, than you have made a serious dollar investment that will ultimately benefit your business. Don’t hamper that investment by reverting to using poor quality images on your site. Outlay a few extra dollars (do a little research, it’s often cheaper than you think) and hire a professional photographer to create the emotions that your site needs for its success.

Your site will be better for it!

Google’s “Mobilegeddon”

MobilegeddonSome small business owners may have noticed a change but the majority would not. Maybe the GoogleBot hasn’t swept by your site just yet. Even if it has, and your search ranking have taken a step backwards, it’s not the end of the world.

An unbelievable number of marketing bloggers have been all “doom and gloom” about the changes on April 21st to Google’s search ranking algorithm but it’s not the first time that changes have been made (it most probably won’t be the last either). Why are so many people excited about this one?

Let’s take a look at what is “Mobilegeddon”?

As of April 21st, 2015, Google will start using mobile friendliness as an integral part of their ranking calculations to determine search results. This means, in layman’s terms, that mobile-friendly sites will get a rewarded with a higher position in those results, while sites that aren’t responsive on mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, will “significantly” drop in ranking.

Just how much that drop will be is still up for debate.

Is your website mobile-friendly?

Google, being the very helpful “big brother” that it is, has conveniently created a mobile-friendly test that will quickly determine whether your site makes the cut or not. The test also generates a breakdown of the various mobile elements of your site so that you can see where improvements need to be made. To examine your site for mobile friendliness, click here to visit the Google Mobile-Friendly Test page.

What if your site is not mobile friendly?

First of all – don’t panic. You won’t be removed from results altogether but there are things you need to do.

To be regarded as “mobile-friendly”, Google looks at the following:

  • On a mobile device, is the text readable without zooming?
  • Does the content of the site resize automatically to fit the screen?
  • Does the site use Flash? (Flash is not available on most mobile devices)
  • Can a user click links and buttons with a fingertip or stylus? How do they navigate around the site?

If you answer NO to any of the above questions then you may have a non-responsive site.

What are the options with a non-responsive site?

Achieving the parameters above is quite simple if your site is built on the WordPress framework.

Option #1:

You can download a free plugin called WP-Touch and configure it to display your site as a mobile theme. WP-Touch has a number of built themes that you can select to display your website. With some tweaking, you can achieve a decent variation of your main site.

Downside: Unless you are skilled in PHP and CSS (web coding languages), this option changes the on-screen appearance of your site and it will no longer match your branding from the desktop version.

Option #2:

Enlist the help of a web designer to alter your website at a foundation level to become a fully responsive website. A responsive site automatically detects the size of the screen and changes everything accordingly. A mobile menu appears, text and imagery resize and non-mobile necessary content can be removed to increase page loading speed.

Please note that this should not mean a complete site re-build. There are actions a web designer can take, at grass roots level, to improve the appearance of a site on a mobile screen.

Conclusion

As you can see from the options above, if you have found that your site has taken a tumble with the changes to Google, it is not a serious problem that can’t be rectified. Once action has been taken, you simply need to wait for the GoogleBot to sweep past your site again, detect your changes and you will be back in business.

Some internet marketing commentators are noticing the mobile changes SINCE 21st April are being detected by Google very quickly. You may be back in your desired rankings before you know it.

Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design